First day of school looks different for families opting for in-person class during the pandemic

Chicago News

CHICAGO  — There’s no doubt no matter which district, the start of the 2020 school year looks much different than any of us remember.

For Chicago Archdiocese schools, which have 70,000 students, Queen of the Rosary School is one of just five or six starting Monday.  The archdiocese posted a back-to-school plan with COVID-19 concerns in mind, offering each family in-person and remote learning options.

Principal Kathleen Mcginn said she planned for the first day of school for her 245 students over months, as only about two dozen of them chose to stay home for remote learning.

“Today went smoothly, couldn’t have asked for a better opening,” McGinn said. “I think it will just be the routine. They pick up on rules very easily and they’re in general very cooperative.”

Even before coming in, the day begins with temperature checks, while hand sanitizer and face masks are required inside.  

Parents who chose in-person said as long as the rules are followed they’re on board.

“We thought with the precautions that they had that this was the best way for them to learn,” parent Doug Albrecht said. “Kids need to be in school; there’s only so much they can learn at home.”

For parents like Peter Kokenes, choosing in-person learning for his two kids was an easier decision than for others.

“We’re all just trying to pitch in and help out as much as we possibly can,” Kokenes said. “We put the utmost confidence in them to take care of our children through the rest of the day.”

The vast majority of students in Illinois will start with remote learning, according to the Illinois State Board of Education, with 980,000 students learning fully online. It will be a mix of in-person and online classes for 528,000 students, while just under 156,000 will receive their instruction fully in-person.

Of the 232 districts serving students in the Chicago area, 55 percent opted for remote learning only, just under 35 percent opted for a blend of in-person and remote learning, and just under 10 percent opted for all in-person classroom learning.

As far as the 240 students at Queen of the Rosary are concerned, about 10 percent or two dozen opted for e-learning only. 

“There’s going to be kinks along the way, but everyone’s in the same thing, you’re learning as you go,” parent Pam Pontrelli said.

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